A report tabled in the Legislative Assembly last week by the Standing House Committee made sweeping recommendations about improving the security at Parliament.
The recommendations included, among other things, putting bullet-proof glass all the way around the Legislative Assembly gallery; the hiring of four full-time security guards to provide around-the-clock coverage for Parliament; and having two police officers posted in the House while it is in session.
It is true security at the Legislative Assembly probably should be strengthened. Currently, there is only one unarmed security guard at the door of the House. There is a metal detector through which every visitor entering the building must pass, but seldom, if ever, are people actually asked to empty their pockets if they set off the alarm.
Standing House Committee Chairman Alfonso Wright argues that the committee – which comprises three members of the sitting government and two members of the opposition – is only being proactive in making the recommendations. The Committee doesn’t seem to take into account the costs involved in implementing its suggestions, or even the possible psychological effects bullet-proofing the House floor could have on the community and the legislators themselves.
Furthermore, if the legislators really feared for their lives so much that they would spend a half a million dollars or more to erect a bullet-proof barrier between themselves and the people they represent, what are they going to do in their public lives? Will we see bullet-proof domino booths built at local establishments just for our legislators? Will Cayman ministers all get personal security guards to follow them around when they go to church; or out to dinner; or fishing?
We can appreciate anyone in government being proactive, but we would really hope the Standing House Committee would be more practical in their proactivity.
Which brings us to another point; Mr. Wright readily admits that the recommendations made in the Standing House Committee report might not be acting on, especially in the current economic situation. Perhaps that is why none of the legislators even bothered to debate the contents of the report.
The question then becomes, why are members of the a Legislative Assembly body wasting their time issuing reports that aren’t likely to draw debate, let alone action? Maybe instead the legislators should have concentrated on more useful things, like completing any number of Public Accounts Committee reviews on reports from the auditor general that will go undone during the current administration.
In the meantime, if people are worried about security at the Legislative Assembly, posting a police officer or two there while the House is in session seems like a reasonable idea. And maybe they should also have everyone empty their pockets as they walk through the door, just as they do at nearly every other place in the world that has metal detectors.
The Committee doesn’t seem to take into account the costs involved in implementing its suggestions, or even the possible psychological effects bullet-proofing the House floor could have on the community and the legislators themselves.